As a business consultant, I often hear clients tell me “I feel like I am going around in a circle, making no progress at all” or “I feel like I am chasing my tail, never catching it and never moving out of one space!” Have you ever felt like you were putting in a lot of effort but every now and then, the surroundings looked familiar and you say to yourself “I’ve been here before and not long ago!” It’s because you are traveling in a circle. You are working really hard but not making any progress and the view never changes and it can be frustrating and maddening if you do realize it and try to find a way out of repeating the same path every time.
On the other hand, if you are going through a cycle, you definitely have challenges, but they are different challenges. You definitely have frustration, but they are different frustrations. Add to that, you are making progress and it’s typically trending upward. The negative side to a cycle is that you are being challenged and it is painful. The positive side is that the view is changing, you probably have not faced these types of issues before and also, you are not going “in” a circle, you are going “through” a cycle, which means you are going to come out of it at some point. Remember, if you are in a healthy growth pattern, you will be entering into a new cycle very shortly which will re-start the entire process all over again, but it will be different which means YOU will need to make changes and be different. This is the challenging part of a cycle. The challenging part of being in a circle is that nothing ever changes, not the issues and not your behavior, just the same old circle over and over again.
This why I am always amazed at people who do not welcome change. Change helps you break out of a circle and launches you into a cycle. It forces you to change your approach, your systems, and your behavior. It forces you out of your circular comfort zone and propels you into a growth cycle to help you develop things about you that need to change in order to achieve healthy progress.
Here are some good coaching questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are going in circles or entering new cycles:
How am I building myself?
Based on what I am doing today, am I going in a circle or going through a cycle?
How am I building my marriage?
Based on what I am doing today, will my marriage flourish or perish? Often times, boredom sets in when we allow things to get circular rather than growing together in new cycles. Or perhaps, one person wants to stay in a circle while the other enters a new cycle.
How am I building my relationships?
Am I building my relationships so they can support me and I them especially so they can withstand any storm? Same thing here in other relationships as in the marriage category earlier. Remember, you are becoming the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Are you in a circle while they have entered a cycle or the other way around? Or perhaps, you are all in a circle or all are entering new cycles?
How am I building my children?
Will my children pass the test of life because of what I am putting into them? A difficult challenge here, especially with children of different and varied ages as circles and cycles vary as well. The rest of my questions in this post follow the same thoughts regarding circles and cycles. Apply the thought process with each question.
How am I building my organization?
Will the steps I am taking today build my organization long-term, or will I later regret that I didn’t make wiser long-term decisions?
How am I building my finances?
Am I using money in a way to build my future or am I throwing away my future by being reckless today?
How am I building my health?
If I keep doing what I am doing right now, will I be healthy later in life, or is my present lifestyle jeopardizing my future physical health?
How am I building my mind?
Ponder each of these questions and use some journaling to flesh them out on this topic. You probably will also come up with some others that could help me and our regular readers. Please add those in comments below!
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